Book Review: Bringing Lucy Home

Confession:  I’m not really sure what goes into a book review.  I actually asked Google, “what makes a book review good”, but then decided to just go at it on my own.  I guess I should have mentioned my lack of book review prowess to the author, Jennifer Phillips, before I answered the call to read and review and post about her recently published book, Bringing Lucy Home.

But I did not.  In my defense, she didn’t specify that we had to know what we were doing… 🙂

Really, though, I already wanted to read it.  And, if my unprofessional “review” makes even one other person want to read it, or even better, want to soul-search and ask whether or not adoption is for THEM.  Well then.  It will have been worth it.

Let me preface all of this by saying…


I love reading about the journeys that others have taken to reach their child.  I love watching the progress, the excitement, and the support that the adoption community has for one another.  I have “liked” many a status of people I will never meet face-to-face.  I have chatted and messaged with other mamas, and it’s like we know each other.  This bond that we have, this tie to one another via our mutual journeys is powerful, and the bonds that we have will likely last for years to come.  Jennifer’s story was new to me.  Even though we are a part of the same adoption agency, her family was being reunited when our family was applying at our agency to begin our journey.

Adoption always begins with a heart-tug, a prayer, a deep-seated knowledge that there is a child out there that belongs in your family.  For some, the Call is heard in childhood; I have a dear friend who has known from a young age that she would one day adopt a child with Down Syndrome.  It is the point when adoption and the plight of orphans becomes real.  Every mama that has adopted has a story about their Call.  Jennifer’s recounting of how the Lord brought adoption and China into her life were fun to read.  I laughed through a good part of this beginning segment in the book.  The writing is real, and it’s humorous.  Although I’ve never met her, I felt like I could hear her telling the story.  It was like I was listening to her relating the parts of her life that led down the road to Lucy over a cup of coffee. It hooked me.  I never cease to be amazed that the Lord can use our weaknesses, our frailties, and the bad things in our lives to bring glory to Himself. This is something that Jennifer would see for herself when recounting the Call the Lord placed on her heart for China.

“My motivations for wanting to go to China [on a mission trip] may have begun selfishly, but God actually used my stubborn pride to get me on a trip I was meant to go on all along.  I would not understand His reasons until fifteen years later”

Once she and her husband Brian made the decision to adopt a child, the steps and stories became much more familiar.  Names, paperwork, abbreviations, all things that have been a part of our lives for the last thirteen months as well.  I started to highlight passages that I felt were similar to our story in my e-reader, and the book became a little orange, maybe even a lot orange.  I read about the joys of prepping for a home study, the experiences of lost paperwork, and the fun involved with doing this while overseas.  The day when her family was matched with Lucy, and they said “yes” to this daughter of theirs, the next stage of waiting became unbearable. As is the case with pretty much every family who knows that a child is theirs, it is impossible to get to them fast enough.

Fast forward, and they are in Guangzhou, China, and they have met their daughter.  At this point in the book my constant comparison of our story to theirs started to go down different roads a bit.  Or at least, different branches of the same road.  Their sweet Lucy reacted to her new family in a totally opposite way than our Julianne did.  But, as with all US adoptions in China, the process was familiar. The Consulate visit, the medical appointments, the trying to learn more about this child that is YOURS, and yet not fully yours yet.  That bonding and attachment takes time, and it brought a whole slew of memories of those difficult two weeks in-country flooding back in.

Finally!  Home again!  Well, kind of.  Because Jennifer’s family lives in Australia, her husband and kiddos had to return to Australia, while she and little Lucy made the trek to the US.  Once a child adopted through a Hague convention country (like China) meets all the legal requirements (like Lucy did) and lands on US soil, their citizenship process is finalized; they are now a US citizen.  Jennifer planned to spend two weeks in America to process paperwork and obtain Lucy’s American passport, and they rejoin her family on January 11th.

That never happened.

This was the part of the book that I couldn’t stop reading (thank goodness for nap time!)  Everything up to this point had been very familiar.  But when I started reading about the repeated attempts to gain Lucy’s passport, and the repeated “no’s” that were issued, I was dumbfounded.  How could this have happened?  WHY did it happen?

“When we made the decision to adopt, we knew it was going to be hard.  We knew it would be messy and inconvenient.  We invested hours of our time into education that told us that adoption would be one of the most difficult and most rewarding things we would ever undertake.  We signed forms and agreements saying yes, we know this will not be easy.  But did we really?  As I stared down the barrel of indefinite separation from four of the loves o my life, I realized how shallow our understanding of “hard” had been.”

Eventually, those questions of “why” were answered.  The “hard” became places where the Lord was able to minister powerfully to this family.  Easy?  No.  Most assuredly not.  Worth it?  Yes.  Knowing that God is working in you is always worth it, even when it’s in via hard places.

Through the process of working tirelessly with many entities to obtain Lucy’s passport, Jennifer learns what it looks like to fully trust the Lord’s plan for her family, for this time, for the waiting.  She is a witness to a beautiful coming together of friends, family, and people she will never meet in person.  All working for Lucy.  All a part of the process to bring home one daughter, one child that is an orphan no longer.

Would I recommend this book to an adoptive mama?  Yes.  Whether you are in the throes of the process now, or if you are like me, and recently home, it’s a beautiful and honest read.

Would I recommend this book to a mama who doesn’t have adoption on the horizon at all?  Yep, sure would.  The struggles that Jennifer faces are so relatable to other struggles in life.  The pain of not understanding why.  The struggle to be happy for others when your world is collapsing.  These are not things that are limited to the world of adoption.

Would I recommend this book to a DUDE?  You know, I think I would!  Although written from a mother’s point of view, it is a easily understood glance into the mind of many an adoptive mama.  Wanna “get” what goes through our minds?  Read it.

One day, I think it would be fun to visit Australia and have a cup of coffee with this lady.  She’s genuine, and that shines through in her writing.  The whole story, the good, the bad, the ugly… it rings true.

You can purchase this book in print or for Kindle, here.



PS – Jennifer, if you read this, and one day I DO get to visit you, please know I expect the house to be fully cleared of ANY and ALL giant spiders beforehand.  M’kay?

1 Comments on “Book Review: Bringing Lucy Home”

  1. Whitney!!! You are AWESOME! This is so beautifully and thoroughly written, and I’m so humbled by your encouraging words. One would never know that this is your first book review. 🙂 I’m so glad my story resonated with you, as I pray it will also resonate with many others who struggle to grasp faith in the midst of suffering and confusion.

    You are most welcome to visit me in Australia!! I will do a thorough sweep for spiders before you arrive. 🙂 Now, as for the snakes…we won’t even go there.

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